Kurds: Our Forgotten Brothers

Kurds are our Muslim brothers. They are the descendents of Ghazi Salah-Al- Din, the saviour of the Al-Quds in particular and the Muslim Ummah in general, against the crusaders from the Europe. They have a cherished history, a gloomy present and an uncertain future. Apart from some stray news in the media, it remains a non-entity. There are many hot spots for the Muslims in the world. Chechnya, Kashmir and Palestine are well known to the Muslims but the Kurds’ problem remains a non-starter.

We are familiar with the Middle East problem and the countries involved in the Arab éIsraeli conflict. We think of Border States like Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. We know that Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq and UAE are also in the Middle East. Then a very common percept of camels, deserts and the palm trees comes into the mind. With coming of the oil wealth a sheikh driving his Mercedes or Cadillac and shopping in trendy shopping centre is a common knowledge. Kurdistan is also in the Middle East but it is different one. It has high mountains and great rivers, rolling hills and lush green steppes. Much of the region consists of areas in the central and northern Zagros Mountains, the eastern two-thirds of the Taurus and Pontus mountains, and the northern half of the Amanus Mountains.

Kurdistan is land of high mountains and great rivers. It has an area of 230,000, which is bigger than Bangladesh. It had a place on the world maps before the First World War. It lost its status after the so é called Peace Treaty of Lausanne, which was thrust to turkey by the Allied forces after the First World War. Britain was the main player in this brutal division. Kurdistan was distributed among the four Muslim countries é Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. These governments, unfortunately, have done nothing to the Kurds, which might be called brotherly and beneficial to their aspirations.

Since 1970s, the Iraqi Kurds have enjoyed an official autonomous status in a portion of that state’s Kurdistan. By the end of 1991, they had become all but independent from Iraq. By 1995, however, the Kurdish government in Arbil was at the verge of political suicide due to the outbreak of factional fighting between various Kurdish warlords.

Since 1987 the Kurds in Turkey by themselves constituting a majority of all Kurds have waged a war of national liberation against Ankara’s 70 years of heavy-handed suppression of any vestige of the Kurdish identity and its rich and ancient culture. The massive uprising had by 1995 propelled Turkey into a state of civil war. The burgeoning and youthful Kurdish population in Turkey, is now demanding absolute equality with the Turkish component in that state, and failing that, full independence.

In the Caucasus, the fledgling Armenian Republic, in the course of 1992-94 wiped out the entire Kurdish community of the former “Red Kurdistan.” Having ethnically “cleansed” it, Armenia has effectively annexed Red Kurdistan’s temtory that forms the land bridge between the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia proper.

Today Kurds are the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East, after the Arabs, Persians and Turks. Their largest concentrations are now respectively in Turkey (approx. 52% of all Kurds), Iran (25.5%), Iraq (16%) and Syria (6.5%).

There is now one Kurdish city with a population of nearly a million (Kirmanshah), two with over half a million (Diyarbekir, Kirkuk), five between a quarter and half a million (Antep, Arbil, Hamadan, Malatya, Sulaymania), and quarter of a million people (Adiyaman, Dersim [Tunceli], Dohuk, Elazig [Kharput], Haymana, Khanaqin, Mardin Qamishli, Qochan, Sanandaj, Shahabad, Siirt and Urfa).

The most important single features of Kurdistan society since the end of medieval times has been its strong tribal organization, with independence or autonomy being the political status of the land. The society’s process of developing the next stage of societal convergence-and the creation of a political culture of interest in a pan-Kurdish polity-was well under way in Kurdistan when it was decisively aborted with the parceling out of the country at the end of the First World War. Tribal confederacies thus remain the highest form of social organization, while the political process and the elite remain to large degree tribal. Today, in the absence of a national Kurdish state and government, tribes serve as the highest native source of authority in which people place their allegiance.

United States is very friendly to the Kurds now days. Of course, it is a friendship of interest. US government has planned a post- Saddam Hussain scenario. It wants Kurds’ help to topple him in exchange of some sort of autonomy for them. Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), and Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union Of Kurdistan (PUK) were invited to formulate a plan for the aforesaid autonomy. However, the meeting could not bear any fruit. The main reason was lack of trust for the US and its overtures. The Kurds had been encouraged to rise up against Saddam twice, in 1991 and 1995, and both times Washington had abandoned them to the Iraqi Army. In 1995, the CIA backed out 48 hours before the insurrection was to begin.

Muslims and the Muslim countries are usually victims of injustice by other nations. It is our habit to accuse others for our misfortunes. We seldom put ourselves on the anvil of reasoning and logic. The main reason for our backwardness and problem is our distance from Islamic teachings. We are sure of ourselves as being Muslims without practicing it. The four Muslim countries must have some compassion for their Muslim brothers and their aspirations. They must consider removing the past mistakes and apply the same sense of freedom and justice that they would want for themselves.

Kurds are right in asking to live a life of freedom and justice in their own country where they are living for more than 5000 years. But they should also not restore to the tactics, which does not conform to the Islamic teachings. They must not contact themselves to some -isms. Islam is a religion and a way of life. If some Muslims are being unjust, it is not Islamic. Our Kurdish brothers must continue the struggle for their rights while adhering to the teachings of Qur’an and Sunnah. Our Muslim brothers all over the world must help the Kurds in solving their problem. We should keep in mind that Allah (SWT) does not like those who are cruel and usurp others’ rights.